Why I’m so thankful to the Kardashians
While flipping through waiting room magazines my seven-year-old daughter recoiled in disgust. Naturally, I asked why she’d had such a strong reaction to the dogeared Hello magazine in the waiting room. She pointed to the infamous picture of Kim Kardashian’s g string clad derriere while holidaying in Mexico with her sisters and friends. It took me a moment to understand my daughter’s aversion.
Understandably this caricature of a woman’s body was confronting and quite alarming to a little girl who’s exposure to a woman’s body so far has been mine and those we’ve seen in swimwear on holidays and the local pool. And as trendy as Hackney is, butt enhancement surgery isn’t a big thing at our local LIDO.
Perhaps the Kardashians are your guilty pleasure. Perhaps you loathe them for their perceived self-centred consumerism. But I’d like to thank them. As a child of the late 70s, the models I grew up with were the impossibly skinny Kate Moss, Claudia Schiffer and, not quite in desperate need of a feed, Cindy Crawford and Elle McPhearson. In fact, Elle was named The Body – that was the body shape we all aspired to. And, for the majority of young girls, it was and remains, impossible.
How Kardashians relate to my story?
In high school, my nickname was either Big Boob Bremner or Big Bum Bremner depending on how cruel the kids wanted to be. From the early age of 12, I had curves. And yet I was expected to have the impossible, pre-pubescent body of these fashion models. I know I don’t look like that now, but children and weight training have changed my body. Regardless of how it looks, at the age of 40, I’m finally happy in my skin and feel the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been.
Back to my giving thanks to the Kardashian Klan. While it’s gone too far, in my opinion, I’d like to thank them for normalising the shape of a woman. I feel that young girls now feel permitted to have anybody shape they’re given – thin, sporty, curvy – it’s about acceptance.
It’s been distorted, as trends often are, to become a caricature of a woman, which is also unhealthy. I struggle to understand how can anyone want to have butt implants. But, if you think about it, we thought that of breast augmentation not so long ago and now we don’t bat an eye when we see a surgically enhanced breast. A number of my friends have gone under the knife in order to feel more feminine. I wonder if butt implants will also become the same? I truly hope not, as the mother of a daughter, but if someone feels unfeminine due to their lack of a derriere who am I to judge their decision?
My kids discussing the Kardashians.
I overheard my three kids discussing the Kardashians long after lights out one night. The three, aged ten, eight and seven, were trying to make sense of the patchwork Kardashian/Jenner family. I was called upon for an explanation. My eight-year-old son declared Kendall/Kylie the most beautiful women in the world. The others didn’t dispute this. Curious I pressed him on where he’d heard this thinking it was from a YouTube video but he just said it was his opinion. Love them or loathe them, the Kardashians represent a new normal. A symbol of envy for women and the desire of men.
It could be argued that trends are cyclical and gamine figures will be back in fashion by the next decade. If you’re part of the Vogue fashion set you’ll know that clothes hanger figures must always be used to sell clothes – haute couture doesn’t look right on anything above a size zero. But I believe there’s a societal mindset shift going on here.
Recently I was privileged to attend a talk by Justine Bloome, chief strategy officer, at VaynerMedia. She talked about this shift in the Generation Z, today’s teenagers. Gen Z who make up this demographic refuse to be defined by labels. It’s not about being fat, thin, straight, gay, jock, nerd – it’s about total acceptance no matter your orientation, shape or style. As an aside I believe this will seriously impact on companies like Weight Watchers, but that’s for another post.
My hope is that as a society we will evolve above societal expectations. I hope my daughter, and sons, no longer feel the need to conform. Instead, they’ll be the best them they can be embracing themselves regardless of who they are and society will accept them. In the end, it’s all about that achieving that oft-cited goal of happiness.
This was the discussion that I had with my daughter as we walked home from our appointment. The sight of Kim Kardashian’s naked, enhanced rear end in a glossy magazine may be confronting to her young mind, but she should also be thankful to the Kardashians for normalising the curvy figure she’s likely to have. After all, she is a mini-me.
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